Exhausting. Thrilling. Harrowing. Spectacular. One of the reasons I’m having such a hard time writing about Game 6 today is because the adjectives we’ve developed over the thousands of years of human speech are rather insufficient. I’m still reeling myself.
But one question some people have asked me today is how on Earth, after coming within one strike of winning the World Series last night, only to fritter it away on multiple occasions, can the Rangers bounce back? My response to that is: what, are you crazy?
Nothing in this World Series has gone as expected. Nothing can be predicted based on the previous game’s results. I would just as soon predict that the Rangers will activate Nolan Ryan and the Cardinals will active Bob Gibson and we’d have an exact reenactment of Game 7 from 1991 than I would predict that the Rangers would be unable to muster the emotional energy necessary to win tonight.
Remember 1986? After Buckner? The Red Sox had a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning in Game 7. Yes, they lost, but the “oh, they’re devastated” narrative didn’t hold up. Tired bullpens, the Mets execution and the Red Sox’ lack thereof is what decided that game, not momentum. To suggest otherwise is to impose a storyline we want to impose, not to reflect what happened. Or what we can at least accurately ascertain happened.
And so is the case tonight. Not having Derek Holland at the ready is going to be a way taller order for the Rangers to overcome than shell shock from Game 6. The fact that they’re on the road and that the home team has won the last eight Game sevens will matter more than shell shock too (though that’s not a predictive thing either). The Rangers’ defense — if as bad as it was in Game 6 — will play a huge role too.
But let’s save the drama-spinning for a while, OK?
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.